Thursday, February 11, 2010

We're Going to New Zealand

This is a good day to be alive!! This morning while I was beading furiously, trying to get everything done by the time Caleen came so I could turn over my outfit to her to be sent to a couple of weeks before we arrive, if need be, I got a call from Will, my husband.

"Now I don't want you to be freaking out."

"Uh, oh," I thought. "What's wrong?"

"It's a good thing, but don't go into super drive. What's Caleen's phone number?"

I was happy to learn that his shoot scheduled in March shifted and he was now clear to go to New Zealand! It was hefty because he's late, but weighing it out -- fixing the front of the lawn crumbling onto the sidewalk and fixing the poor kitchen or praying, singing and dancing for the Salmon to return -- it was an easy decision.

Caleen was saying, this is more than just about the northern California area. It was more than New Zealand. This is for the world. This is for the crisis of global warming. The salmon is not just food. The salmon is critical for the health of water. We can see that. It is the only fish which spends life in both the ocean and the rivers. As goes the salmon, so goes the earth. This is not just a warning. It is also good news. Turning things around and bringing the salmon runs back to all the places where they have been displaced can turn the global crisis around.

This is such an important venture the tribe is undertaking. Two peoples meeting, the Winnemem Wintu and the Ngai Tahu across the globe from one another, from the opposite shores of the Salmon's world, the Salmon People will meet to pray together four days, fasting, praying, dancing the salmon dance, singing the salmon song. This will be the culmination of many forces coming together. Of course there is the invitation of the Ngai Tahu to the Winnemem and both their histories caring for the same family of salmon and their sacred rivers. But then there is the spiritual domain which cannot be explained. All I can say is that the earth is readying for the salmon's return to the Winnemem River. The songs are coming in. The dance is dreamed in. You can feel things lining up. In fact, I can almost hear it, this hum of a loud vibration. When I focus, I can hear and feel the sound of all of nature readying for this.

So when this morning's completely unexpected call came from Will asking for the Chief's phone number, I said, "Thank You, Granny." I just knew he was supposed to go. I knew a way would happen. As soon as Caleen sent the word out that we were going, and she was securing group tickets, the ticket-thing was no longer stuck and began to move along, and today was Will's day. We'll board together, most of us with our carry-on luggage filled with our outfits, all things willing, and Will carrying his camera. We carry what we can't replace. Underwear, a change of clothes, they are replaceable.

There are things which are harder because it is in the hands of another civilization, another way of doing things, the world of modern day commerce and bureaucracies. How do you raise funds for a tribe to travel in a world where governments have such authority over resources which belong to other people. Who gets to fly? Who has credit cards? Jobs which give time off without consequence. This is a ceremony on the other side of the dateline -- and ceremonies can't be rushed. Who gets to access support? From whom? In this modern day world, who permits the earth to turn, the salmon to swim where they were put down, the rivers to flow freely? This is not answered easily because I believe that although it seems so thorough, this dominion over the earth thing, in the end, the earth is ultimately not conquered.

There are the rules and regulations. We may have to hurdle bureaucracy for the outfits to go. Acorn for the acorn water, the pine nuts, shells, hide, feathers of our clothes, the sacred objects all must pass inspection by those who do not walk this way of life. But I have faith. I have faith that somewhere in their heart, they will hear the soft sound of deerskin on our feet, the rhythmic unified sound of abalone and pine-nuts swaying together, the eagle whistle, the stamping of warrior's feet as we walk through one after another in the footsteps of Winnemem ancestors. I have faith that we will all be able to carry our outfits on the plane with us rather than send then ahead. The passports will arrive on time for the tribal members. Our outfits will be able to make this important journey, as will the drum. Everything and every person who is supposed to go will go and when we get there, somehow it will all come together, because right now the Ngai Tahu are preparing as much as we are, half way across the globe, where it is Autumn and Yesterday. The Ngai Tahu tribe is preparing to receive us as are their spiritual helpers, as are their sacred river, as is the beautiful land which has taken care of them for generations, as are their songs, and their dances and their Fire. And of course, also preparing for the days of ceremony are our Salmon relatives from whom the tribe has been separated for too long.

The intention has been set by our Chief and by the Ngai Tahu invitation. It is unstoppable in the hands of the Great Olelibus. It is a good day to be alive!

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.